Why We’re Pulling Our Ads from Big Tech Platforms Next Week

We’ll donate to Access Now’s upcoming digital rights conference instead.


We are concerned by the recent revelations about Facebook and the exploitation of its platform. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, like many recent headlines coming out of Silicon Valley, raises questions about whether Big Tech is doing enough to balance its own interests with one of its biggest responsibilities: Safeguarding your privacy.

We believe that all people have the right to know how their data is being collected and used, and that each of us in the technology sector has an obligation to honour the commitments we make to our customers’ privacy. Big digital platforms offer us incredible opportunities to personalise and contextualise the advertising we deliver to you. But with the power of those capabilities comes a great responsibility that can’t be neglected.

That’s why—starting on Monday—we will pull our advertising from Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Twitter for a week and will make a donation to support RightsCon: a digital rights conference created by our Listen Better grantee Access Now. We will also go dark on our Facebook and Instagram social accounts next week in solidarity with those seeking to build a healthier, more consumer-friendly tech ecosystem.

Some of you may ask: Why not permanently abandon these platforms if we are so concerned? Despite the flaws of these massive digital networks, we fundamentally believe in the power of technology to bring us together and to create deeper, shared experiences. We have found Facebook, Instagram, and other online platforms to be incredibly effective ways for reaching our customers and sharing our mission as a company – not to mention staying in touch with friends and family in our personal lives. But there’s plenty of room for evolution. Now is the time to have the hard discussions and to support those who drive things forward. Those who aim to make us all better technologists and more educated consumers of technology.

The gesture we are making this week, while small, is meant to meaningfully support the growth of an ecosystem of groups working solely for the social good when it comes to tech. We believe that our industry – and society as a whole – will be healthier if companies like Sonos and Facebook exist in an ecosystem that includes a vibrant activist community focused on advancing the social good.

Organisations like Access Now, which strives to be a reasonable check on the power and reach of technology companies, could use these funds to create meaningful dialogue and policy recommendations to help us all improve. RightsCon is one of the only forums where tech companies engage directly with activists on equal terms, enabling solutions that can help forge a healthier technology ecosystem that works for everyone. As part of our own ongoing effort to learn and evolve, Sonos will be an active participant in RightsCon this year. We think it’s important for those involved in creating tech to listen to the voices of those that are impacted by it, including the most marginalised groups such as human rights defenders, LGBT people, and people of colour. RightsCon is a forum that enables exactly that type of listening – and ultimately, action.

For us, this isn’t about one social network or advertising platform. It’s an acknowledgement of the work we all have to do (Sonos included) to enable our industry to play a productive, empowering role in our society in a way that works for everyone.

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